How can marketers be accountable?
Step One: Believe that you can make a difference. If you can make a difference then you will be motivated and naturally want to work on the right projects. Projects that mean something to your organization and ones that help you grow and learn. Projects that highlight your value, which is very important.
Step Two: Promise what you will do or create. Put yourself out there and commit. Take a chance, but be willing to ask for help. I think it is important to clarify your promise in an email, or a document or in a power point slide. Be flexible and clear so that you can make sure you have made the right promises.
Step Three: Do what you promise. It feels good and is good to do what you say you will do. This is the time to be creative and innovative. On occasion you will do more than you promised. Your reputation depends on you doing your part.
Step Four: Hold yourself to high standards for communication and effort. Sometimes you will not be in control of the result and that is ok. Accept it. Control what you can and have trust in your leadership to help you work around the uncontrollable.
I had the great opportunity to attend a Change Acceleration Process (CAP) training workshop a couple of months ago. Now I have the even better opportunity to put it into practice. That happens sometimes. You attend a workshop and then actually use what you learned at the workshop as part of your real job.
The situation. I am part of a four person team with an idea. Each of the four of us is passionate about the idea. No executive sponsor anywhere in sight. Even our line managers are not fully updated and certainly not on board. A classic ground up idea in a culture that prefers top down ideas. There is a lot of work to do, no budget, and we are not ready to pitch anything to anyone.
The CAP tool that I like the most right now is called a stakeholder analysis. We have a long list of stakeholders and a scale that indicates our impression of their reaction to our idea, if they knew about it. The other part of the scale is where we think they need to be, to support our idea so that it can be turned into an official program. I hope this does not sound too manipulative, but the stakeholder analysis is helping us to formulate tailored selling strategies for each of the stakeholders. Who prefers logic and who prefers emotion, who will get it immediately and who will need time to think it over. If another team had me on their stakeholder analysis, they would put me down as someone who wants a customer perspective and will listen carefully to give the idea a fair chance. I will formulate an opinion quickly. I will need some evidence to support the idea, but not too many details. Why do I like the stakeholder analysis tool so much? Because in the past that I have assumed that everyone is like me and that they will love my ideas. Whoops. What dumb mistakes! I know better now. Marketers have to sell and to sell you have to know who you are selling to and be willing to flex to their preferences.
Marketing is cool. Many reasons, including the propensity for marketers to create both confusing and meaningful graphs. We love to tell a story with one graph. This week I learned this one on customer benefit analysis.
Ability to win – Graph
Blue bars represent the customer benefit / what is important. For this movie example I chose to graph; entertainment, community / family, connection, and price. The lines represent performance relative to the customer benefit. Harry Potter is entertainment for young and old, it is a movie to go to with your friends and family, and the connection to the characters is real. The price paid for Harry Potter is the same as the price paid for any other movie. Harry Potter has amazing and overwhelming ability to win. About 6x the gross of Megamind.
How do you know the best way to go-to-market with your new product, service or solution? Every business, even the small ones, have options. By go-to-market, I mean channel selection, which is distinct from channel management.
Consider the target market. Going-to-market should be based on what the customer will appreciate and understand. It should not be based on what the organization has always done or what is most expeditious. The channel must add value. Customer in always better than supplier out. Strive to meet customers where they are and message to them in their voice about their needs or wants. Keep costs low – for everybody. On-line channels are so tempting, because of the extended reach and apparent low-cost. Consider that if a sales call costs $150, a single on-line impression costs $5. These are not the same thing of course, but the cost difference is so significant that you have to consider an on-line channel for almost any new product, b2b or b2c. Keeping in mind that a sales call also does not always result in a sale. The on-line choice is easy if you believe it will sustain sales and long-term profitability. Usually some aspect of the on-line channel is debatable.
# of sales calls x cost of sales call x success rate
# of on-line impressions x cost of impression x number of impressions to achieve a sale
What are the key questions?
- Can we influence the channel and align it to organization goals and customer needs?
- Can the channel be scaled up or down to meet customer demand?
- Can the channel sustain growth and profitability?
Senior marketing managers should address these questions and prepare and present the go-to-market plan. The plan will include input from the sales leadership and the chief marketing officer.
Not good enough. Hope this is not as surprise, but just a basic knowledge of math is not good enough for marketing managers. We have to be able to do more than work a calculator. I was reminded of this two times in the last week.
– I caught an engineer presenting an average of averages. “Caught” is not the right word. I was not trying to catch anyone, but I could not let it go either. So as politely as I could I asked for the calculation to be redone with a weighted average. It was a winner all around, because the revised calculations made the engineer’s proposition even more compelling.
– Due to some changes on who does what (imagine that) I was asked to come up to speed quickly on an excel file. The file was created over the last 12 months and is very well organized and the notes are better than expected. Still, I had to internalize what is happening in this excel file, including lookups and logic statements. Basic math skills would not have cut it.
I suggest that marketers need a knowledge of statistics, databases, logic, accounting and excel to truly succeed.
I love the people part of marketing, but my experience includes a fairly intense analytical numbers dimension as well. Given my process / analytical social style, this is fine with me.
Now for the cold water. At the end of this school year, I could not keep up with my 10th grader’s math assignments on polynomial factoring. For this engineer turned marketer, who was always able to help my older daughter (now 24) with her math homework, let’s just say it hurt real bad.
Why didn’t I google this in May?
One of my friends who was trying to help me feel better explained that 10th grade is the new grad school.
Art Linkletter had a popular TV show called Kids Say the Dardnest Things. He made a nice living talking to kids. Me, I make my living talking to customers. Honestly, I should talk to customers more than I do, but that is just how it goes in the big company marketing role I have now.
Just like the kids Art’s talked to, customers will surprise you with the things they say. Ask an open ended question and shut-up. Don’t just shut up, make sure you are listening and taking notes. Marketers are not really paid to just talk to customers, they are paid to listen to customers and then make something happen. Just talking to them is interesting, but not the stuff of prime time television these days.
Link to Art Linkletter on Wikipedia